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5 Takeaways From Another Brutal New Orleans Saints Loss

The Saints are on the doorstep of losing their season, there are plenty of games to go but sitting at 2-4 now leaves no margin for error, they need to win every game they should and a couple they shouldn’t if they are going to make the playoffs. Which a team with this much talent should be doing.

What is there to takeaway from this game from a positive and negative view?

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Saints Running Game is This Team’s Offensive Identity 

Gone are the days of the high-flying Saint’s passing offense led by Drew Brees (oh how we miss you). This Saints team is built to dominate on the ground and did just that yesterday against the Bengals.

The Saints ran for 228 yards on 34 attempts which averaged out at 6.7 yards per carry. That’s a recipe for winning the game nine times out of ten. This game was unfortunately that one.  To add to the frustration of this dominance on the ground not resulting in a win. It’s the first time since 2005 that the Saints lost a game where they ran for over 200 yards.

All three Saints runners were excellent, Kamara again saw the majority of the rushes with 19, and Ingram (9) ended up with more carries than Hill (5). The Bengals did a good job overall against Hill and ended with 39 yards rushing, 31 of those came on one run. 

But this running identity must include Taysom Hill more, his usage almost disappeared in the second half on Sunday, especially in the RedZone which is where he has been at his best this season.

Hill also managed to pick up two first downs throwing, this is why it was mystifying why he wasn’t used more in the RedZone and on the penultimate offensive drive. On that penultimate drive, the Saints needed a couple of first downs to run out the clock up 2 to win the game. 

There has been a lot of criticism of the playing calling on this drive, the Saints went three and out after a pair of three-yard runs and an incomplete pass. I understand the calls that the Saints were too conservative but, the running game had gotten them to this point and if they hadn’t tried to seal the game using the running game then that would have been malpractice as well.

My bigger issue was the lack of Taysom, on the two runs, they put eight defenders in the box on first down and nine on second down. Having Hill at QB would have allowed the Saints to still run if they wanted but crucially Hill could have exploited the packed box with a pass like he had done earlier in the game.

Saints Falter In The RedZone

This game was ultimately lost in the RedZone.

The Saints offense kicked too many field goals. The Saints defense couldn’t hold the Bengals to any.

It’s that simple. The Saints offense made six trips to the RedZone and scored points on all six trips however, only one of those scoring drives was a touchdown, and five were field goals.

Compare that to the Bengals offense who made three trips to the Saints RedZone and scored a TD on all three.  

Entering the game, the Saints were one of the best RedZone offenses at converting trips to touchdowns and the defense was one of the best at stopping touchdowns in the RedZone.

That all crumbled on Sunday and it completely changed the complexation of the game. If the Saints scored one more TD from their six RedZone trips, on the last drive they would have only required a field goal to win the game rather than a TD. The same goes for the defense, one field goal instead of TD.

The Baffling part of the Saints offensive struggles? Why didn’t they use their main offensive RedZone Weapon more? Taysom Hill has been lethal in this area of the field this year and other than a role out pass that didn’t work he didn’t have any touches in the RedZone. 

Dalton Has One More Chance

Seems almost 100% that Dalton will start again this week @ the Cardinals. It’s a short week and Winston still seems like he needs more time to get healthy.

Dalton could have easily shut the door on Winston returning as the starter. He’s been efficient and with some more competent defensive play, he could very easily be 3-0 as the starter if that were the case I don’t think the Saints turn back to Winston.

Now I’m not saying Dalton has been perfect he’s missed some throws, some that Winston might have made and has not done enough in crunch time to see out some games.  

Also adding QB Jameis Winston back into this team, with this running game is an enticing prospect. Winston is one of the best QBs on play-action, with this running game a credible threat, that only gives more credibility to a play-action fake.

If Dalton losses or doesn’t look hugely impressive on Thursday then I think the Saints return to Winston after their ‘mini bye’ for the game against the Raiders. Is that the right decision? only time will tell.

The Secondary Is A Problem

The Saints pass rush did a pretty good job yesterday yes they need to convert pressure into sacks but if Burrow didn’t get the ball out in rapid time the pass rush was there and would have had plenty of sacks. After the first drive it was clear that the Bengals committed to not letting their o-line lose them the game, by dialling up plays where the ball was out of Burrow’s hands fast.

That plan, in previous years, would have suited the Saints defense, this year it sliced them apart. Burrow diced the Saints defense up with quick game because the secondary couldn’t cover for more than a few seconds before someone was open. 

In theory, that should mean shorter gains, but this Saints secondary misses a tonne of tackles turning what should be short gains into first downs and even touchdowns. See Chase’s 60-yard TD for an example of that- .

Yes, they’re down their best cover corner (Marshon Lattimore) but this secondary and its depth were supposed to be the strength of this team. That’s why they basically gave Chauncey Gardner-Johnson away.  

Second-year CB Paulson Adebo was supposed to be taking the next step to becoming great number two corner, two games into his return from injury, he’s not that, he’s not even close, PFF has him chartered as giving up 8 catches from 10 targets for 74 yards and a TD.

Bradley Roby is doing okay but has a huge problem with missed tackles PFF have him missing three tackles in this game alone, one of those being the biggest miss of the game, again see Chase TD.

Then you have Tyrann Mathieu and this may be harsh, but currently looks like a liability. He’s missed his fair share of tackles but also always seems to be in the wrong position when a play could be made. Right now he does not look like the player everyone expected. Maybe he needs more time to acclimate to this defense he missed a fair amount of time in training camp. He may also need time to build chemistry with his safety partner Marcus Maye who’s missed the last three games. Either way, his play needs to improve.

There’s Still Some Room For Hope

Yes, even at 2-4 with all the injuries and that questionable and inconsistent play there is still a slimmer of hope. After the game this Thursday they should get many of their injured players back ( Winston, Thomas, Landry and Lattimore that’s why a win against AZ is essential.

The Saints have 3 winnable games coming up, this Thursday against Arizona (who have their own injury problems) after that its the 1-4 Raiders at home and then after a trip to Baltimore the Saints face either a Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky lead Steelers team.

IF they can win three of those games that would put them 5-5 and that could be good enough to put them first or close to it in a currently poor NFC South.

The margin for error has now gone for the Saints, the loss to a dreadful Carolina team and two games they should have won against the Vikings and the Bengals have eroded that away. There can be no more excuses, a loss to the Cardinals this week ends the slither of hope I have left for this team.

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Week Six- New Orleans Saints Vs Cincinnati Bengals Preview 

The Saints look to be walking into the dome badly wounded but, not dead. Let’s take a look at how this version of the Saints, down many starters, matchup to last season’s Superbowl runners-up the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Saints Offense Vs Bengals Defense

It’s expected that the Saints will give Andy Dalton at least one more start this week, Jameis Winston has been limited in practice this week and has looked healthier. It makes sense with how efficient the offense has been under Dalton to give Winston another game or two to make sure he’s as close to full health as possible before inserting him back into the line-up.

Dalton will need to continue his efficient play under center this week as he will almost definitely be without Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry again, there is hope that Chris Olave will be available for the game after returning to practice on a limited basis following his concussion on Sunday Vs Seattle.

Adam Schefter who’s usually a reliable source tweeted last week that the Saints expected Thomas back this week and the fact he is still not practising is concerning, after the debacle of MT’s ankle injury this has shades of how that was reported, maybe it’s just the Saints preserving him going into a short week against Arizona next week on Thursday night, that’s what I’m hoping.

If the Saints have Olave available then that’s good enough for the passing offense to function with a healthy dose of Alvin Kamara mixed too. 

Speaking of Kamara this has to be another strong rushing game, the offense has to play complimentary football, shorten the game and keep a defense without Marshon Lattimore against Ja’Marr Chase fresh.

Kamara had his best game of the season last week and was running was more noticeable burst than he’s had recently, he did have another costly fumble, to continue the theme of the offense needing to play complimentary football that can’t happen this week, nor going forward. The Saints offense needs to be able to rely on its best player not to make killer mistakes so they can feed him because when you do that special things happen.

The Bengals defense has allowed 4.2 yards per carry so far this season, which ranks 10th best in the league. They are without arguably their best-run defender this week with DJ Reader on IR. They managed to bottle up Lamar Jackson last week for only 4.8 YPC last week, which is about as good as you can hope for. That was also a perfect matchup for them to help in the preparation for the Saints own mobile QB weapon.

Enter Taysom Hill, along with Kamara he needs plenty of touches early and often if the Saints are going to win this game. More on Taysom vs the Bengals here- Analysing Three Key Saints Matchups To Watch in Week Six – Full10Yards.

The Bengals defense enters the dome as one of the better units in the league and so far looks like the best defense in this game. Trey Hendrickson returns to New Orleans and leads a stout d-line, Hendrickson has been a force on the edge since his last season for the Saints, which has only continued for the Bengals.  The Saints o-line will have a handful this weekend with him and Sam Hubbard on the edge and B.J Hill on the inside.

The secondary for Cincinnatti is led by another former Saint Vonn Bell, the Saints chose to sign veteran Malcolm Jenkins over Bell in free agency a few years ago, something he hasn’t forgotten, he was quoted this week by Cincinnati media “ they drafted me, yeah, and I appreciate the opportunity. But they moved on from me. You never forget that.” 

Chidobe Awuzie leads the CBs, he’s only allowing 42.4% of the passes thrown his way to be completed with 4 PBUs and a 62.4 passer rating when targeted. He will give the Saints WRs all they can handle this weekend. Opposite him is Saints reject Eli Apple starting opposite, who has played well so far this year but expect New Orleans to target him frequently rather than Awuzie.

Saints Defense Vs Bengals Offense

The Saints defense is expected to be without their best cover CB on Sunday Marshon Lattimore is expected to be out after bruising his kidney against Seattle last week. Every week is a bad week to be without your best CB, this week hurts especially with Ja’Marr Chase making his return to the Superdome for the first time since his days at LSU.

Paulson Adebo will need to step up after a dier showing against Seattle last week. Hopes were high for  Adebo entering his second season, he was widely considered to be the training camp MVP and most improved player on the defense before suffering an ankle injury that sidelined up for the first 2 games of the regular season. 

It’s expected that Bradley Roby will start opposite him this week, Roby had been manning the slot since Adebo’s return. posing the question who starts in the slot? do the Saints return to Justin Evans? who started in the slot at the start of the year. Or do they go with Chris Harris Jr. who was an elite slot CB for most of his career but he is in the twilight of his career at this stage, so who knows how effective he will be at this stage?

Whoever mans the slot will have their hands full with one of the better slot WRs in the league Tyler Boyd. Outside of Boyd and Chase, the Bengals have their own question mark surrounding their number two WR Tee Higgins, an elite big play machine who will be questionable this week after missing practice at the start of the week with a knee injury, before some limited participation today.

The Saints should have safety Marcus Maye back this week which should help this Saints defense defend big plays. More on the secondary’s issues with big plays here- .

Having Maye back should also allow HC/defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to use Tyrann Mathieu in the way he envisioned when Mathieu was signed, a more free-flowing playmaker at safety who can line up anywhere, without too many responsibilities. That’s the version of the Honey Badger the Saints need on Sunday.

The Saints also shouldn’t have to stack the box to defend the run this week. Despite having one of the better RBs in the league, the Bengals running game has been stagnant. Joe Mixon is averaging 3.1 yards per carry so far this season. Without having to stack the box the Saints can live in NICKEL (2LBs, 5DBs), which should also help against the pass.

Cam Jordan and the rest of the Saints d-line should have an advantageous matchup this week against a porous Bengals o-line. If the Saints d-line, especially Marcus Davenport doesn’t dominate this week and they need to help limit the big plays against this Bengals passing attack, then I don’t know when they will. More on Davenport and the Bengals o-line here- .

State Of The Rosters

No surprises for the Saints, Olave being upgraded to full is a huge development, but his status for the game is still up in the air. Fingers crossed he plays, with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry out the Saints need their standout rookie.

On the Bengals side Tee Higgins and Jonah Williams missed practice all week but practised on a limited basis on Friday, I’m sure they will play, there’s been no reporting on that its just big players, especially WRs always seem to find a way to play when the Saints are the opponent. If Higgins doesn’t play that would be a huge help to the Saints secondary.

Score Prediction 

I’ve predicted the Saints to win every game this season so far, but with the injuries, I don’t think I can this game. There’s a path for the Saints to win if the running game dominates and the defense limits big plays they can win. Of course, I hope they do win, but I think the injuries are just too much to overcome this week.

28-20 Bengals win.

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Analysing Three Key Saints Matchups To Watch in Week Six

The Saints are wounded entering their Week Six matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals but there are still some matchups that if the Saints win should give them the edge on Sunday.

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Taysom Hill Vs Everybody

Taysom Hill is an incredible offensive weapon, not just because of his game last week Vs Seattle. Taysom has always been a weapon. Even before last week, he was averaging 5.6 yards per carry in his NFL career.

With the talent Hill has shown in his weapon role in the NFL, it’s confusing why Hill has not been a consistent weapon throughout his career week in and week out. Could It be Fumbles? (10 fumbles in 2020) injuries? he missed 8 games last season. Worried about the starting QB getting out of rhythm? truth is it could be a mixture of all. Either way, New Orleans needs to make him a focal point of what they do week in and week out.

Hill has had dominant games like last week in the past and then inexplicably the next week he’s barely used. At times it’s because he’s been the team’s primary backup at QB. Others the lack of usage has been a mystery.

That lack of consistent usage can’t happen again this week. The Saints have the makings of an offensive identity with a creative running game led by Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara.

The Taysom Hill package is one of the more creative packages in the league and one of the biggest headaches for opposing defenses. What player can make four defenders stare solely at them? Allowing a TE a completely free release up the seam for a touchdown? See the evidence of that in the tweet below:

Sean FazendeFOX8 on Twitter: “Seahawks 6, 57, 56, 26 all staring down Taysom Perfect call at the perfect time by Pete Carmichael” / Twitter

That identity is even more important this week, as it stands the Saints will not have their top three WRs (Michael Thomas, Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry) available this weekend and the offense needs to continue its efficiency a lot of that efficiency has been built off the run, allowing the play-action passes to be particularly effective.

Since becoming the starter Dalton has had 11 completions from 12 attempts for 131 yards. That may not sound that exciting, but those throws are creating chunk plays in the passing game that are keeping drives alive. Without the top three WRs this weekend the need for play-action passes to be a creditable threat is even more important.

Saints Secondary Vs Big Plays

It’s looking very likely Marshon Lattimore will be out this weekend which is a huge blow for the Saints secondary, they lose their best cover CB and one of their better tacklers at the position as well.

Even with Lattimore available for the majority of last week, the Saints defense gave up a crazy amount of big plays (six plays of 32 yards or more) now one of those was a run however if you watch that I think the secondary is a big part as to why Kenneth Walker ran for 69 yards into the endzone.

This cannot continue to be a factor and this week on paper it shouldn’t, per Marcus Mosher on Twitter, the Bengals offense has the second least amount of big plays on offense so far this season with 21, (eight rushes of 10+ yards and 13 pass plays of more than 20 yards).

Traditionally the Bengals offense with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase has been a big play threat, they road this ability all the way to the Superbowl last season.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter: “Most big plays through Week 5:” / Twitter

What makes the Saints defensive struggles so frustrating is they are dominating in three important metrics (third down percentage, fourth down percentage and red-zone percentage) as pointed out on Twitter by John Sigler (below)

John Sigler on Twitter: “Through 5 games, the Saints have the NFL’s 2nd-best defense on 3rd downs (29.9%, 20-for-67) 4th downs (25%, 1-for-4) Red zone (33.3%, 4-for-12) Winning where it matters most.” / Twitter

If the Saints can keep the big plays to a minimum this defense will dominate and ascend to where they belong (a top 5 unit in the league).

Saints Offense Vs Turnovers

Turnovers are still a massive problem for this Saints offense, even with Andy Dalton at the helm rather than Jameis Winston.

With Dalton starting the Saints offense has three turnovers, two of those have been Dalton (one Interception and a fumble) the other was Alvin Kamara lost fumble last week.

Yes, the offense has looked better and more in rhythm with Dalton leading the charge but they are still plagued with a problem that will cause them to lose a lot of games that they should win.

Kamara also has another fumble against Carolina and Week Three, I don’t bank on this continuing (Kamara has never lost more than two fumbles in a season since he entered the NFL but one of the players you want to give the ball to the most have two lost fumbles already is pause for concern.

The fumbles especially fall on the players of course but also the coaching staff, HC Dennis Allen needs to find a way to rectify one of the team’s biggest issues.

Former HC Sean Payton had some choice words for Mark Ingram on Kay Adams morning show, Up and Adams

With the possibility of being without many key players on Sunday, it’s going to be hard enough for the Saints to beat their opponent let alone having to beat themselves as well.

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